Thirty Four Years Ago
I scrambled from the back of a 5-ton Army truck and landed in a different universe
Before me stood men
Whose disdain for my existence was visceral
Though I had excelled in all of the tests required to arrive at this place – none of it mattered.
I hadn’t proven my worth to THEM.
And… until I did
I was nothing
Welcome to Day Zero
The arduous road to reach the Ranger Battalion was smooth and downhill compared to the climb that I would undertake to remain there.
Silence is corrosive.
If thoughts remain inside
they burn their way to very dark places
and start to consume my soul
I have to get them out...
Or I will lose myself to them
my mom would say
when she sent me to bed
My dreams have never been sweet
In the sleeping otherworld
I am despised reviled hated pursued maligned chastised excoriated mocked and scorned
I am lost abandoned confused terrified and helpless
Even familiar places and comforting faces
Become hideous antimatter versions of themselves
No, Mom, there are no sweet dreams for me
There never have been
I just never told you.
Early on Sunday mornings
Uncle Matthew clattered about downstairs;
hours before the sun was scheduled to rise.
After a while,
the warm smells of morning
wafted their way around the spacious farmhouse;
Bacon cut thick
so that it didn’t shrivel up to nothing in the pan,
and most special of all,
his honey bread.
We were convinced that God himself gave Uncle Matthew that recipe
as it was the closest thing to Manna that any one of us had ever tasted.
If my life were music...
it would be an unlistenable cacophony of sound.
It would be carefully scripted symphonies
interrupted by screaming brass improvisations
It would be triumphant orchestral overtures made ridiculous by banjos and Jew’s Harps
It would be beautiful meditative chant debased by the infusion guitar-screeching heavy metal.
If my life were music...
It would be looped and played continuously at Gitmo.
My friend died today.
He loved kids,
He was playful until his body wouldn't let him play any longer.
Despite the pain that he must have suffered
the last few months of his life,
he endured stoically and without complaint;
even managing a smile
to greet old friends
and other visitors.
He was curious and smart and loyal
Devoted to those who showed kindness to him.
He was protective
without being overbearing, intrusive, or jealous.
My friend loved the countryside
Where he lived out the last few years of his life.
Having acres to roam and explore suited his wanderlust.
Having a family that loved him filled his heart with happiness.
He loved to hike and camp.
Exploring new trails, meadows, and beaches were his favorite diversions.
He loved hotdogs.
He had a floppy ear,
3/4 of a tail
and hated to be confined.
I loved that old dog
and I know that he loved all of us.
Rest easy my friend.
May you find plenty of places to explore in your next home.
A eulogy that I wrote for a great German Shepherd that we lost a long time ago.
Water the plants,
****, forgot to water the plants.
I fed the fish,
threw out the trash,
walked the dog,
but there was one other thing….
What the hell was it?
Right, here it is,
on this slip of paper,
call the Alzheimer’s Foundation.
Why do I need to do that?